Oh how the world of PR has changed! When I started out in the industry, press release distribution meant headed paper, a print run, photos developed and glued on, hardback envelopes and a trip to the post office.
The process of getting press releases out to the media was a lengthy cycle of phone calls, printing, posting, follow-ups and tracking print papers and magazines (not to mention the fax machine).
It worked, of course, if executed well with the right press releases for the media outlets. But the old press release distribution process was also expensive and time-consuming.
And now it all feels somewhat archaic and an effective press release distribution service is increasingly sophisticated and as well as targeting journalists sometimes it includes social media distribution as well.
Whether want to share your press releases along with images and videos locally, nationally or internationally, ‘pr’ distribution services will boost the reach of your press release, bolster campaigns and enhance your search engine optimization.
A good press release distribution company will also enable you to target new audiences and support, for example, the overarching digital marketing activities which will foster growth by making sure you are prominent on major search engines.
Cheap press release distribution services are more likely to adopt the ‘spray and pray’ approach and send your news to countless media sites and that could prove counter-productive.
Today, there is a host of subscription services for press release distribution that will use their bank of data and wealth of intelligence to help marketers and PR professionals.
They offer support by managing everything from building their target media list and identifying target journalists or content editors, to sending out your story and tracking responses.
Some of the biggest press release distribution companies in the market, Vuelio, Meltwater, PR Newswire, PR Web, PA Media, Business Wire, Cision and Roxhill Media, offer a sophisticated range of distribution tools.
They will help users get their stories to the right outlets, journalists and influencers to achieve key media coverage.
It helps that the best press release distribution services have strong reputations so they will be regarded by journalists as press release companies that can be trusted.
A release distribution service will also often be accompanied by press release sites where your can package together the key elements of your story and key assets such as graphics to maximise exposure.
Social media distribution is also an increasingly important element of the services press release distribution services can provide by elevating the visibility of your press release on platforms such as Twitter and TikTok.
As part of their press release service, they also often have an extensive and up-to-date media database to target with your news release.
This database will range major media outlets from broadcasters to other key news outlets such as regional media and specialist trade outlets, social media influencers, whatever your target audiences.
They will also offer a detailed report full of vital information on the reach of the website you are targeting and its overall standing in comparison with other media outlets so you can prioritise the delivery of your press releases.
They won’t just google news to see if your press release has hit the jackpot but they will use an array of scientific tools.
Press release distribution sites might even throw in a free press release template with an unlimited word count to make sure that the process is streamlined.
Works of art
It’s not rocket science but there is an art to writing a good press release.
There are a few basic principles to observe when it comes to structuring your press release so you can tell your story in an engaging way.
Along the way it involves catchy headlines, key messages, soundbites and above all it’s crucial that you avoid the temptation to overwrite you press release.
No matter how important you think your new product, new service or your comment on the big issue of the day, you’ve got to keep your press release to the point.
That is why it is worth considering hooking up with a press release company to put your words together.
A good press release site will be operated by experienced staff who know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to writing a press release.
They have the know-how to not only make sure your news engages journalists but that it pops up prominently in key search engines.
There are also press release websites that are free to use and they may do the trick as well if your budget is tight.
A great press release remains a popular tool for PR and marketing professionals to get the message out about a new product, service, key new appointments, growth, or views of a brand.
But you need to be smart when it comes to reaching your target audience through relevant media outlets to secure that potentially invaluable editorial news coverage which will bolster your company’s reputation.
Whether you opt to invest in a full press release distribution service to share your news and views – and other media-friendly assets – or if you are using other tools to get news to your network of media contacts, there are some key principles that apply to all when you are drawing up your press release distribution plans.
Know your audience
Not every story will be relevant to every target journalist and all the media outlets on your press release distribution list.
Indeed, one of the biggest journalist bugbears is being sent press releases and story pitches which have little or no relevance to them or their readers.
Talk to any journalist – especially those who are operating in the mainstream media – and you will be taken aback by how many press releases they receive every day.
It is not unusual for journalists to see 80 to 100 press releases pour in from companies wanting to share their news so the competition to win hearts and minds across media outlets is intense.
Their hearts sink when inappropriate content crams up their inbox and you don’t want to get a bad name for yourself or your company as an unprofessional time-waster because your press releases could start getting ignored.
A single press release sharing irrelevant news can wreck relationships with journalists who are pressed for time when it comes to press releases and the ‘block’ button could come into play.
So make sure you don’t cut any corners on news distribution and also keep up to speed with their career because journalists often move on to other media outlets and their specialisms change.
Reporting for duty
As well as planning ahead and effective targeting, a good release distribution service will help measure the impact of your press release through careful analysis.
They will provide the measurement tools on reach and engagement that help drive campaign results and ensure that performance improves on an ongoing basis.
They will ensure you are able to identify areas where you can do better and those areas where you are gaining lots of traction with your press release and that will ensure your media endeavours are richly rewarded.
Call of duty
In the absence of a warm contact, it is often worth putting a call in to double-check with a news desk or office administrator – including major news networks – so your press release reaches the correct journalist for consideration.
And do revisit your media targets each time you distribute press releases. Ask yourself basic questions.
Is it relevant? Will your press release appeal to this readership? Does it speak to their industry, their challenges or their interests?
As a very wise former colleague used to say, ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.
Alternatively, consider tailoring your press release to each audience.
The more relevant and engaging, the more likely your story is to be covered and your killer press release pays dividends.
And if you are targeting regional media outlets then in the process of press release writing, make sure that your story has a tangible link with their area before you set about issuing multiple press releases across the country.
It is better to make the most of your contacts and your know-how but if you send a press release directly then make it personal to strengthen those relationships.
More than words
While good copy is the starting point for a great press release, we now use a variety of media to illustrate a story – photos, infographics, video, and audio all sized for online and social.
This gives brands the opportunity to bring their message to life and it fulfils relevant journalists’ need to create multi-media stories that will engage readers and ultimately drive clicks through social media networks.
As a general rule good news stories should be accompanied by up to three images and if they fit the bill and form a basic package then they will boost your chances of success when you send press releases.
And do make sure that the images you do share when you distribute press releases not only look professional but that they are hi-res photos as well because otherwise your best-laid plans may be undermined.
Whether you are sending your press release to one contact or one hundred, relationships matter.
Under a broad distribution strategy, a blanket email from an unknown sender can easily be overlooked in a crowded inbox in what is called a “Spray and Pray” modus operandi which does not always pay dividends.
Your chances of success will be boosted if you identify a list of priority targets to make sure you share your news directly and with a personal touch when it comes to your press releases.
While it can be tricky to meet people face to face or even reach them at the office on the phone, you can build a relationship virtually.
This can be done via email, by connecting on LinkedIn or by engaging with them on other social media, by, for instance, sharing their content or commenting on their posts.
Take time to get to know media contacts, help people out, and be responsive – treat working with journalists and influencers like any other business relationship, building trust and mutual respect.
Then, when they receive your press releases….they’ll be more likely to read them and you could be on to a winner.
You don’t need a million contacts, you just need the right ones to reach your potential customers, even with just one press release.
For example, look at distributing press releases to relevant journalists to gain media coverage, such as trade publications.
You want major search engines to pick up your stories and reach consumers who may in interested in learning more and your digital marketing activities will gather important momentum.
Timing is crucial
They say timing is everything but the rules around the timing of your press release distribution are more fluid than they once were as the new cycle keeps speeding up thanks to digital media.
Publishing is a constant and even the daily papers are less tied to their morning news conference than they would have been five years ago.
There is a constant demand for news and strong content on media sites that will engage consumers and people in other businesses. But timing is still important.
The best press release services will know from experience what is the optimum time to share your news and they will have the evidence to show that sending out a press release late on Friday afternoon to a journalist and media sites is not the best of ideas, especially if it can wait until Monday morning.
Context is key
Context is also significant. Think about what else will be happening in the world of your target media and target audience when you send your story – read the room.
Whether it’s the time of day, the point in the week or the timing of other events which dominate the news agenda, think about what’s best for your story and associated press coverage.
It might be that you linking news to your press release will give you crucial leverage – even if your comment is used to add depth to coverage.
And don’t be afraid to hold back your press release if those best-laid plans and campaigns are overtaken by events that will dominate the news agenda and render your news release surplus to requirements.
Words can go a long way
Do make sure you choose those press release distribution services where journalists visit to find good stories and one press release could go a very long way.
Media coverage is an essential part of building trust in a business, and distribution services are very useful.
That is especially true when you place your faith in press release distribution companies which have a proven ability to make sure your press release appears in key media outlets and that precious press coverage is secured.
And press release distribution companies are not just for big firms and organisations – those small businesses who are making their first foray the media will be able to find a suitable agency to guide them.
At AMBITIOUS PR, press release distribution is just one of many tools we use in our media relations and earned media campaigns. To find out more, contact our team…